BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
RESIDENTS of Marondera are up in arms with their local authority for hiking prices of graves by 400%, saying that the municipality wanted to profiteer from COVID-19 deaths.
The hike in the prices for graves will see a single grave at Paradise Park costing US$433, up from US$103.
The local authority also hiked grave fees for a cemetery that caters for high-density areas, popularly known as Meki Cemetery, from US$10 to US$43.
A council document seen by NewsDay stated that prices of graves would be hiked with immediate effect.
As a result of the hike in prices, different resident associations in the town approached council to register their displeasure with the price hike and to call for a review.
In a statement, Marondera council finance portfolio committee chairperson Dzvuke Mubaiwa confirmed that he met with the town’s administration, which resolved to reduce the prices.
He said after the reduction, residents were expected to fork out $20 691,63 for a grave at Paradise Cemetery, while the price of a grave at Meki Cemetery will be lowered to $2 074,57.
Marondera Residents Open Forum spokesperson Tapiwa Chengeta said council should further review the fees downwards.
“The cemetery fees are still too high and there is need for further downward review. Death is not a luxury, council should not profiteer from death. They should peg a minimal or affordable price for residents. If they are doing it for residents, then they should revise the fees again. The local authority should stop bullying residents,” Chengeta said.
The demand for graves in Marondera has been on the increase due to the rising COVID-19 deaths.
The situation has been worsened by government’s ban on the movement of dead bodies across the country.